2018 Champions Showdown Recap – Day 4


With 8 blitz games left to play in final day of the Champions Showdown, chess fans got to witness countless entertaining and heart wrenching battles. Due to the nature of blitz and Chess960, a plethora of blunders and time scrambles were seen across all of the matches.

While no match was fully clinched going into the final day, a number of players did manage to shut out their opponents without much resistance.

Kasparov vs Topalov

The day got off to a rocky start for the legendary Garry Kasparov. When the new initial position was determined at 12:30 PM, he proceeded to spend 29 minutes accidentally preparing a different position! Having accidentally switched the starting squares of the queen and rook, Kasparov started on the wrong psychological footing.

Just one minute before the round, Kasparov realized he prepared the wrong starting position. Photo by Eric Rosen

In the first game, he lost a 15-move miniature to Topalov in what some might call a premature resignation. Despite Kasparov winning a few of the later games, Topalov’s lead was too great. Upon winning game 17, Topalov clinched victory as well as the $30,000 prize.

Topalov bested Kasparov with an overall score of 14.5 to 11.4

Game 13: Topalov wins

Game 14: Draw

Game 15: Topalov wins

Game 16: Kasparov wins

Game 17: Topalov wins

Game 18: Draw

Game 19: Kasparov wins

Game 20: Kasparov wins

Final score: Topalov (14.5) - Kasparov (11.5)

Shankland vs Vachier Lagrave

Sam Shankland had perhaps the roughest day of all the competitors. Upon losing the first 4 games in a row, Shankland was shutout. MVL’s speed and tactical precision was simply overpowering. To make things even worse for the reigning US Champ, he suffered an embarrassing moment in game 18. Upon overlooking mate-in-1, he lost in just 12 moves!

Not the proudest game for Sam Shankland -- White to move and mate in 1!

Hopefully Shankland can recover from this disappointing result and show better form in the Olympiad starting later this month.

All credit goes to MVL for playing some of the most exciting and dynamic chess out of all of the competitors.

Game 13: MVL wins

Game 14: MVL wins

Game 15: MVL wins

Game 16: MVL wins

Game 17: Draw

Game 18: MVL wins

Game 19: Shankland wins

Game 20: Draw

Final Score: MVL (17.5) - Shankland (8.5)

Aronian vs Dominguez

In similar fashion to MVL’s dominance, Aronian did not loosen the grip over his formidable opponent. With an already crushing score of 12-6 going into the final day, Aronian stayed solid by drawing the first two blitz games and winning the third. This was enough to guarantee himself the $30,000 prize.

Game 13: Draw

Game 14: Draw

Game 15: Aronian wins

Game 16: Dominguez wins

Game 17: Draw

Game 18: Aronian wins

Game 19: Aronian wins

Game 20: Aronian wins

Overall Score: Aronian (17.5) - Dominguez (8.5)

So vs Giri

Wesley So accomplished one the of most impressive feats of the event with dropping only one loss out of all four days! Going into the final day with a 11-7 lead, So just needed to stay solid. He did just that with an amusing 7 draws and one win over Giri.

Game 13: Draw

Game 14: Draw

Game 15: Draw

Game 16: So wins

Game 17: Draw

Game 18: Draw

Game 19: Draw

Game 20: Draw

Final Score: 15.5-10.5

Nakamura vs Svidler

The closest match of the event came down to the final few rounds in which Nakamura needed to score a half point out of the last 3 games to shutout Svidler. In game 18, Nakamura managed to grind down a drawish knight endgame to put his score over the top.

Game 13: Draw

Game 14: Svidler wins

Game 15: Nakamura wins

Game 16: Nakamura wins

Game 17: Nakamura wins

Game 18: Nakamura wins

Game 19: Svidler wins

Game 20: Svidler wins

Final score: 14-12

While Chess960 events are still quite scarce across the professional chess landscape, the Champion’s Showdown showed tremendous potential for future events of similar style. The players expressed satisfaction with the event’s unique format. Additionally, chess fans from around the world got to enjoy a great deal of entertainment as the world’s best competed in fresh positions.

Nakamura expressed his hopes for the future: “It’s great to play Fischer Random and I hope there are more events like this.”